I enjoy recreation as much as anyone else, and I love playing games. I’ve been to youth rallies where teenagers have eaten some strange things and been willing to do some crazy stuff. Our youth fellowships are known for fun games and laughing until we cry. I love it! But one of the biggest lies Satan sells young people is they have time to eventually get serious about spiritual things; that you have time to just “enjoy” your teen years, maybe even “sow some wild oats” and do what feels good. All of us have experienced this is a lie. Sin ALWAYS leaves us empty and hurting. All the fun that sin promises is quickly departed, but the pain and shame lasts and lasts. Titus 2 verses 4 and 6 teach that both young men and young women ought to be taught sobriety. This does not just mean not to be drunk, but to be serious! And there is nothing more serious than Heaven and Hell. Teenager, it is time to think about more than what is for lunch or what we’re going to do this weekend, and instead see that Jesus is coming again soon and get serious about serious things!
I led my first soul to Christ when I was in eighth grade. I had invited him to church and he agreed. After hearing the gospel several times, he began to ask questions and eventually told me during a phone conversation he wanted to be saved. I told him I would walk the aisle with him the next service and we would talk to the preacher. Instead, he called me back later and said he did not want to wait! I led him to Christ right then over the phone. We’re still in contact today.
The Lord had done a deep work in my heart between seventh and eighth grade and I walked into my public school dedicated to standing for Christ and speaking the truth in love. God had confirmed His call on my life and I knew it was time to live what I believed. This included a change of friends, carrying my Bible everyday, and looking for opportunities to give my peers and teachers the gospel.
In my many opportunities to deal with teens here in our church as well as in my travels preaching, I have been asked many times, “How do I lead my friends to Christ?” When we draw close to Christ, we get His heart for souls. It is important to know, you CAN lead your peers to Christ!
- You must be saved yourself. II Timothy 2:6 states, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” In other words, you cannot give out what you do not own. You need to make sure you have put your faith in Christ and your own soul is secure. If you have doubts or questions, get them settled once and for all! You will never lead your friends to a Lord you do not know yourself.
- See every peer as a soul. In Matthew 25:46 Jesus said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Let me lead you through a frightening exercise. Think of one of your very closest friends. Imagine them with you enjoying the beauty of heaven and the glory of the presence of Jesus! Now…imagine that same friend in the agony of Hell, crying for relief. The truth is, every one of your friends will spend eternity in one of those two situations – and YOU can be the one who helps them change destinations. Our bodies may die, but every person’s soul will go to Heaven or Hell. We need to see every peer as a soul!
- Live a Christian conversation. In our King James Bibles, the word conversation means “lifestyle,” so not just how we speak, but how we live! Philippians 1:27 says, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” That means we should live in such a way that others want to know our God. Let me ask you a question: Does the way you live draw people closer to God or send them further away? As you well know, teenagers can smell hypocrisy miles away! Right? So, just like you can point out the inconsistencies in your authority figures, your peers see it in you! Live what you believe! Be clean and holy – their souls hang in the balance!
- Hate sin, not sinners. Psalm 119:104 says, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” We are to hate the false WAY, not the WALKER. Hate the PATH, not the TRAVELER. Tattoos, piercings, cursing, fornication and the like are symptoms of a disease – A SINFUL HEART! Those things should just serve as signals that teens are looking to fill voids and holes in their life that only Christ can fill! We must love them as Jesus does. They are condemned already in their sin (John 3:18), and they need the grace we’ve been given!
- Be bold about your faith. The well-known verse Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” We must speak! Our friends and peers will never know who Jesus Christ is if we do not tell them! Some of them are confused, some of them have questions, and some of them simply do not know the truth. Often I have been asked, “But, preacher, how do I start that conversation?” The Bible says to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). That means, truth is most effective when spoken out of a heart of compassion. If you begin a conversation with your friend/peer by saying, “Listen, I want to be serious with you about something. I care about you, and I was thinking about you the other day, and I prayed for you. I would never want anything bad to happen to you, but if it did, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?” You may or may not be able to lead them to Christ right there on the spot, but you have opened a door that the Holy Spirit will enter through. Do not be ashamed of Christ!
As a side note, do not be ashamed of your pastor and youth leader! Do not be ashamed of your church! If you criticize them in any way, you can forget your friends respecting them or listening to them. You could seal their fate in Hell, simply because you want to look cool.
Recently at a youth outing, me and a few of my former teens, now young adults, put on a skit where we went after the crowd with nerf guns and super soakers. Kids were laughing, screaming, getting soaked…and it was a blast! Some ran, others stood up because they wanted to be a target! There is nothing wrong with these things – they’re great! But your teenage years are not too early to be serious about serious things! You will find no greater joy than making an eternal impact on your friends and peers. Your friends are hungry for something real, something true. Let’s introduce them to Jesus Christ.
Pastor of Fairview Baptist Temple